Dusty Baker comes under fire for a lot of things, especially in Cincinnati. Lineups, the rotation and bullpen moves are daily topics in this part of the world. Most of it can realistically be written off as just fan frustration. When we’re tweeting about Baker’s refusal to bring Chapman into now the seventh inning, we’re asking Baker to change the game of baseball, because it’s not just Baker who isn’t doing that, it’s all 30 managers. This kind of criticism will happen nightly, because that’s all we have in a 162 game season. And while it makes for sometimes intriguing fodder, there’s just little merit to the daily questioning of Baker.
However, what’s recently gaining merit at a rapid pace is the notion of a leaderless clubhouse. This season, fans have pretty much seen it all from the Reds. And not even talking about errors – that’s part of baseball. But the multiple base running miscues, the mental lapses that cause even the highest paid guys in uniforms to forget how many outs there are, the inability to simply wear the sunglasses sitting on the bill so that infield pop flies are caught; there’s been room for skepticism. If you were still sold that Baker has everything under control, last night had to be your tipping point, no?
BP, as he often is, must have been feeling pretty confident. Confident enough to interrupt his manager’s scheduled media time. Confident enough to drop those kind of bars on a reporter just doing his job. Confident enough to do all of this without any fear of repercussions from the Skipper. And why should he? Does this response make you believe Baker holds his players accountable?
“I ain’t in that, man. That is between you and him.”
He’s not in it? It’s his baseball team. It’s his ship, he’s the captain. If this is Walgreens, he’s the store manager. If this is a boat house, Baker is the foreman. And while Baker would conveniently like to be left out of this, fact of the matter is, he is responsible for the actions of his players, at least when they’re in the clubhouse, wearing a uniform, getting ready for a game. Baker’s refusal to intervene, and worse, his expression during the entire thing, may be indicative of a certain criticism that follows Baker like a fan on Twitter. That Baker doesn’t have control of that clubhouse. That there is a real void in leadership. That guys are not being held accountable. Baker could have said one word and this isn’t even a story. Instead, he let’s Brandon, once again, hand Sports Center exactly what they needed to end a show a with.
At some point, doesn’t it get old? We’re in the middle of a pennant race. Reds fans everywhere were just talking themselves off the purple bridge and now can hardly even enjoy the colossal beat down of the Cards along with Bailey’s first win at Busch. Nope, instead today’s Reds fodder will circle around Brandon Phillips, as it has in the past, for reasons that are frankly not concerning baseball or the push for the NL Central.
If the Reds don’t take that next step this year, then perhaps it’s time for upper management to start installing the kind of accountability in this clubhouse that prevents guys from making themselves look like caricatures. Brandon will be Brandon, there’s no reason to act surprised or get mad, he is who he is. Though in all fairness, personally tearing down a reporter whose job it is to report facts about all things Reds, including BP’s OBP, is pretty weak, even by the most liberal of standards.
Considering all the things a manager cannot control but is still held accountable for in baseball, you’d think Baker would at least capitalize on something he can. But maybe like everything else we speculate on daily, he’s not in that either.